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Birds Korea's Bird News November 2004


Waves of colder air cause a sharp drop in temperature, especially from mid-month onwards, when maxima can be as low as 8-10°C: the last of the autumn migrants are joined by huge numbers of wintering waterbirds.

Numbers of Baikal Teal continue to build, along with geese (many of which move on into China). Swan Geese peak at the Han-Imjin (with 1000-1500 in recent autumns). Common Buzzards and Cinereous Vultures start to arrive for the winter, along with gulls (Saunders's, Siberian, Vega, Mongolian and Slaty-backed are all widespread), Red-crowned, White-naped and Hooded Cranes, and passerines, including Siberian Accentor. Movements of divers and alcids, most especially Ancient Murrelet, can be impressive. Passerines include many late summer visitors until the second week of the month, when winter species, such as Chinese Penduline Tit and Pallas's Reed Bunting start to predominate.

Outstanding national rarities in November have included Black-headed and Ortolan Bunting and Savannah Sparrow on Gageo Island in 2000 and 2001, Demoiselle (2001) and Siberian White Crane in the Nakdong and the Han-Imjin/DMZ (2001) respectively, Korea's first White-capped Water Redstart and Water Pipit in 2003, the country's third and fourth Verditer Flycatchers in 2004, and a Ural Owl photographed at Odaeson National Park in 2005.

(The following records are a compilation of our own sightings and records sent in by other observers. As well as being posted on the Birds Korea website(s), selected records are also forwarded to other Korean-language birding websites; records of threatened species are arranged and forwarded to Birdlife International and national authorities when appropriate; flag images and records are passed to bodies responsible for their coordination throughout the flyway; and all records sent to us are used to compile annual reports and to support the evolving understanding of the status of many of Korea’s birds.)

Bird News from Barry Heinrich
GuryongPo, November 28

1st W Glaucous Gull, GuryongPo. © Barry Heinrich.

Amongst good numbers of gulls was this well-photographed 1st W Glaucous Gull.

Bird News from Jake Mac Lennan and Peter Nebel
Geum River Estuary and areas adjacent to the Dong-jin River, November 28

Osprey, Dongjin. © Jake MacLennan.

A small group of Swan Geese and a few Black-necked Grebes were at the Geum River Estuary. A block count of Common Shelducks on the mud flats came up with a 1000 bird estimate. Male Smews have started to join the more numerous females

Near the Dong-jin River one group of Rooks and Daurian Jackdaws held about 3000 birds: several groups of similar size moved around the landscape like dark scintillating clouds. In a large pond by the village of Jang-keum a group of eight Great Cormorants landed and took off. There also, an Osprey circled above frightening the ducks which included 11+ Eurasian Wigeon.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Nakdong estuary and Dadapo, November 28, Goose count

A couple of hours counting geese from a high point overlooking the estuary produced a total of 1 800 Eastern Taiga Bean, ca 40 Greater White-fronted and 2 Swan Geese. Other species in high numbers included ca 2 000 each of both Whooper Swan and Great Cormorant, while 2 Osprey, ca 20 Black Kite and 20 White Spoonbill were also noteworthy

At Dadapo, few woodland birds, with the exception of good numbers of Varied Tit (20+) and Japanese White-eye (15), with highlights being a single Red-flanked Bluetail and 2 Grey Bunting (an irregular winterer at this site).

Bird News from Gang Chang Wan
Jeju, November 27

Verditer Flycatcher, Jeju Island. © Gang Chang Wan.

1 1st winter Verditer Flycatcher - the country's fourth record, following one on Hong Island earlier in the month (PARK Jong Gil), Gageo Island in 2002 (PARK Jin Young) and on Socheong Island November 2nd, 2003 (Nial Moores and Dennis Buss).

Bird News from Mike Hooper
Imjim River and the surrounding area pm, November 27

Cinereous Vulture 110, Northern Goshawk 2, Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1, Common Buzzard 1, Kestrel 4, Little Bunting 1, Rustic Bunting 5, Yellow-throated Bunting 20, Ruddy Shelduck 8, Common Merganser 8, Tundra Bean Geese 200, Magpies 44 in one tree! Plus all the usual Herons, Spot Billed, Mallard, Tits, Parrotbills etc.

Bird News from Mike Hooper
Namsam Park midday, November 28

Red-flanked Bluetail (female), Daurian Redstart (male), Common Buzzard, and a Long-tailed Rose Finch feeding with Yellow-throated Buntings and the Bluetail.

Bird News from Mo In Ho
Joonam Reservoir, November 24

Water Pipit, Joonam. © Mo In Ho.

1 Water Pipit. Given the sudden number of records in November from the last two years (see below), it seems very likely that Water Pipits have been overlooked in the south of the country during winter.

Bird News from Sim H. S.
Gangwon Province, November 23

Scaly-sided Mergansers, Gangwon Province. © SIM H.S.

About 10 Scaly-sided Merganser (the exact site and date is being withheld at the wishes of Mr Sim to reduce disturbance to the Mergansers).

Bird News from Jake Mac Lennan and Peter Nebel
Geum River Estuary and vicinity, November 21

Oh-seong Mountain was quite active with various passerines. The best was a single Red-flanked Bluetail. The area adjacent to the Geum River had both Wood (very unusual this late) and Green Sandpipers (which overwinter in small numbers) as well as a small group of Grey Wagtails. In the river itself 10s of thousands of Baikal Teal are building up in numbers. The estuary had a single Falcated Duck. One reservoir had 30+ Coot bobbing about over the wind swept water.

Bird News from Mike Hooper
Namsan Park, Seoul, November 21

2 Japanese White-eye

Japanese White-eyes are scarce in the Seoul area with (according to Park Jin Young's Doctoral thesis 2002) only two records (both in winter), and one further record in Incheon.

Bird News from Park Jong Gil
Heuksan Island, November 19 - 20

Siberian White Crane, Heuksan Island. © Park Jong Gil

Water Pipit, Heuksan Island. © Park Jong Gil.

Remarkable news from Park Jong Gil who on the 19th was on Heuksan at Eri waiting for a ferry when the Siberian White Crane previously seen at Seosan (from 4 pm or so on the 18th leaving at 10:25 in the morning of the 19th) flew over at him at 4:40 pm and landed nearby. The crane was again present on the 20th.

Preliminary research into records of Siberian White Crane in the Republic of Korea (based mainly on Park Jin Young, unpublished doctoral thesis, 2002) suggests the following:

  • 1 in 1992, November, Han-Imjin River
  • 1 in 1997, March, Han-Imjin River
  • 1 in 1997, October, Han-Imjin River
  • 1 in 1999, November-December, Cheorwon DMZ (listed in the thesis as three separate records but more likely refers to a single long-staying individual)
  • 1 or 2 in 2001, November-December, one Han-Imjin River and one Cheorwon DMZ
  • and 1 in 2004 November, Seosan and Heuksan Island.

Also on Heuksan, 1 Water Pipit, close to the site where Park Jong Gil found three on November 26th 2003 (for images go to Year Review 2003.

Prior to these four birds, there are only a handful of (collected) records of Water Pipit in Korea

According to a paper by Fennell in Condor (Vol 61, May 1959) most were assigned as Anthus spinoletta blakistoni and are as follows:

  • One male (perhaps first year). Idon, Gyeonggi Do (Gwangneung), Nov 23, 1957
  • One unaged: NE Seoul, January 12, 1958
  • Two, one male, one female, same site, NE Seoul, January 19, 1958
    All specimens identified as blakistoni by Deignan and deposited in the Museum of Verterbrate Zoology
  • A further specimen was collected at Kumhaw, Gangwon Do, on December 1, 1929. It was reported as "doubtful" by Austin, but was still held in the Yamashina in the 1950s (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zoo, 101, 1948: 236) and was considered by Toji Mishima as "definitely" a blakistoni.

Additionally there is one previous sight record:

  • One (description still waiting) seen by Paul Leader, on Jeju Island on November 22nd or 23rd, 2003.

Bird News from KIM Hyun-tae
Seosan Lake A, November 18 - 19

A Siberian White Crane, found in the late afternoon on the 18th, was seen leaving southwards in the morning of the 19th.

Remarkably it was then re-found on Heuksan Island (about 250km to the southwest) by Park Jong Gil (see map below) - there are few records of large waterbirds being re-located, proof perhaps that the birding community here is growing and communicating more.

Siberian White Crane with Whooper Swans, Seosan A. © KIM Hyun-tae.

Bird News from Park Jong Gil
Hong Island, November 13 - 18

Long-tailed Shrike, Hong Island. © Park Jong Gil.

News recieved of yet another good Hong Island record (see Nov 02 and 13 below): a Long-tailed Shrike found on the 13th and still present today. Listed as a vagrant in Lee, Koo, and Park (2000), there have been approximately 13-14 records since 2000 - mostly on offshore islands. (For a discussion note from autumn 2002 go to The Long-tailed Shrike in South Korea.)

Bird News from Jake Mac Lennan and Peter Nebel
Geum and Mangyeong River Estuaries, November 14

Lesser White-fronted Goose, Geum Estuary. © Jake MacLennan.

A single Lesser White-fronted Goose was at the Geum Estuary. After the mud flats disappeared a couple of White Spoonbills flew by (at the Mangyeong fourteen or more Spoonbills were present). Northern Shoveler, Common Shelduck, Whooper Swan, Smew and Goldeneye were personal firsts for the season.

Bird News from Song Y.G.
Imjin river, November 14

11 Black Vulture

Bird News from Kantori (Japanese Birding Forum)
Izumi, November 13

The number of Cranes at Izumi have been counted by Tsuru Hogoka.

Hooded Crane:8,860
White-naped Crane: 224
Sandhill Crane: 3
Demoiselle Crane: 1
Common Crane: 1

Bird News from Mike Hooper
Imjin river, November 13

A brief visit to Imjingang station environs produced Upland Buzzard (1), Cinereous Vulture (1), Common Kestrel (2), Rustic Bunting (45), Brambling (25), Yellow-throated Bunting (20), Siberian Accentor (1), Daurian Redstart (6), Northern Lapwing (30), Greater White-fronted Goose (300).

Bird News from Park Jong Gil
Hong Island, November 11 - 13

Chinese Blackbird, Hong Island, 11 Nov 2004. © PARK Jong Gil.

1 mandarinus Blackbird observed: there were apparently a further 6 sightings made on Hong island this spring. (Not listed in Lee, Koo and Park (2000), the first documented South Korean record of Chinese Blackbird was in July 1999. For more details and discussion go to Chinese Blackbird - a new Korean species.)

Bird News from Barry Heinrich
Joonam Reservoir, November 13

No signs of the Hooded Crane flock (which apparently departed on the 12th), but instead a male Baer's Pochard.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island and ferry to Incheon, November 13

With calm and overcast conditions in the morning, a good chance to look for late migrants. In the limited area covered, highlights included still 10 Chinese/Light-vented Bulbul and the Japanese Robin, at least 7 Grey, 2 Grey-backed, 70 Pale, 50 Dusky and 100 + Eye-browed Thrushes, 2 Dusky and 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, at least 5 Siberian Rubythroat, 10 Japanese Grosbeak, and a Japanese White-eye

Additional birds of note included 2 Japanese Quail, a single Upland Buzzard, an extraordinarily late Asian Stubtail, a dead Pechora Pipit picked up off the road, at least 15 Siberian Accentor, 3 Black-faced Bunting (including one personata, a rather scarce subspecies here), and at least one Pine Bunting.

From the ferry, 1300 Black-legged Kittiwake, 292 Ancient Murrelet and 116 Loons, mostly Pacific with a few Arctics mixed in (the last two highest counts so far from this ferry, coinciding with their peak in migration along the East coast).

Additionally 3 Phalarope sp, at least 13 Finless Porpoise and most exciting of all a medium-sized whale (possibly Fin or Sei?), seen briefly about 40 Km south of Socheong.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island, November 12

With largely clear skies and Beaufort 6 northerlies temperatures dropped sharply overnight, and struggled to a chilly 7°C (43°F) maximum during the day.

Similar birds to the 11th, though with many species "missing" (either departed or keeping in cover), most notably Yellow-browed Warbler (the first day on the island without one since early September). Highlights of a difficult day in the field included still 21 Japanese Grosbeak, 7 Chinese/Light-vented Bulbul, the elusive male Japanese Robin still, at least 5 Grey and still ca 100 Eye-browed Thrushes, and a Red-breasted Flycatcher still ("individual one")

Other birds of note included a single Mugimaki still, ca 5 Siberian Accentor, 6 Siberian Rubythroat, 2 Lapland Bunting, 3 or 4 Long-tailed Rosefinch, and 4 Pallas's Reed Bunting.

Eye-browed Thrushes, Socheong. © Nial Moores

Female Pale Thrush, Socheong. © Nial Moores

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island, November 11

After yesterday's heavy rain and gale-force southeasterlies, there was little doubt that some kind of fall would take place, this further suggested by hearing flocks of mixed thrushes circling the village at night

First bird seen in a great but bizzare day was a male Grey Thrush: the first of 17 Grey Thrush seen during the day (presumably a new Korean day record, and also the latest record of the species here!)

To continue the Japanese theme, 25 Japanese Grosbeak were also found, along with at least one (and possibly 2) Grey Bunting (first record of this species so far northwest in Korea) and even more surprisingly a male Japanese Robin!

Other species of note included at least 110 Eye-browed and 50 Pale Thrush, a Hume's Leaf Warbler, 7 Chinese Bulbul still, a Long-eared Owl, an extraordinarily late Pechora Pipit flying round with an equally late Richard's Pipit, 1 or 2 Blue-and-White, 2 Mugimaki, a single Red-throated and 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers...individual 1 and amazingly a new one found in a different part of the island (though with colder upperparts and a less obviously pale bill-base than the previous two birds, but again paler uppertail-coverts than retrices, could this individual have been a hybrid?)

In light of these records we have substantially re-organised and expanded our 2003 article looking at the separation of Red-throated and Red-breasted Flycatchers in our ID Notes section: go to /Birds/Identification/ID_Notes/BK-ID-Albicilla.shtml

Other good support species included Long-tailed Rosefinch (2), Lapland Longspur (1), Rook (7) and a probable Dark-throated Thrush, while most numerous were Brambling (500) and Rustic Bunting (75).

Eye-browed Thrush, Socheong. © Nial Moores.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (third individual, or even possibly a hybrid?),
Socheong, © Nial Moores

Bird New from Mo In Ho
Joonam Reservoir, November 10

250 Hooded Crane remained at Joonam reservoir all day.

Bird New from Gang Chang Wan
Jeju Island, November 10

Black-faced Spoonbills, Jeju. © GANG Hee Man.

11 and 2 Black faced Spoonbill in, respectively, Sungsanpo and Hadori.

Bird News from Mo In Ho
Joonam Reservoir, November 9

Hooded Cranes, Joonam. © Mo In Ho.

71+ Hooded Crane landed and fed on the reedbed island in the reservoir.

Bird News from Kim Su Kyung, Joo Young HaK, and Kim T. J.
Joonam Reservoir, November 8

8 White-naped Crane still, +900 Eastern Taiga Bean Geese, +500 White Fronted Geese, 1 White Spoonbill

Groups of 85, +80, +90 Hooded Crane arrived and migrated southwestwardly between 1:45p.m -3:30p.m.

Bird News from Kim Su Kyung, Joo Young HaK, and Kim T. J.
Upo Ramsar site, November 7

+1650 Eastern Taiga Bean Geese, 9 White Spoonbill, and 7 Bewick's Swan

12 and 11 Hooded Cranes arrived at respectively 2:40 p.m, about 4 p.m. but didn't land and flew southwestwardly.

Bird News from Magnus ROBB

A fascinating banding record - the recovery of a male Rustic Bunting ringed as an adult at Stora Fjäderägg near Umeå (Sweden) 16th September 2001 was made in China (close to the border with the DPRK) on 1st November 2004. The distance between the two sites is 6443 km.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island, November 9

With winds remaining in the SE little change, with only Daurian Redstart (50), Red-flanked Bluetail (40), Dusky Thrush (60) and Yellow-throated Bunting (75) remaining reasonably numerous. Best for the day included the Jay again, several Chinese/Light-vented Bulbul still, single Red-throated Flycatcher, at least 10 Pallas's Leaf Warbler, and highlight: a first winter male "Red-throated" Thrush.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island, November 8

With winds swinging to SE and dense fog banks, few new birds were grounded, and many migrants seemed to have moved on. Best for the day was a Red-breasted Flycatcher again (presumably "individual one"), though now highly mobile, a late first winter male Mugimaki, a simplex Japanese White-eye (the first confirmed record on the island, despite the high numbers of Chestnut-flankeds recorded) and 3 Long-tailed Rosefinch.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island, November 7

Clear and sunny with high visibility and strengthening SW winds. No sign of either of the presumed Red-breasted Flycatchers, with birds of most note being the personal first Black Scoter (2) of the autumn, a brown-eyed Eurasian Jay (presumably of subspecies brandti) a "new" Hume's Leaf Warbler, at least 8 Chinese/Light-vented Bulbul still, and late Siberian Rubythroat, Barn Swallow (8) and Asian House Martin (1).

Bird News from Nial Moores
Socheong Island, November 6

Still and clear conditions overnight (with a minimum temperature down to 4 or 5 C and a slight touch of ground frost), followed by warm sunshine

Although only 55 species were logged, these included many highlights. Late migrants included a single Red-rumped/Lesser Striated Swallow and Siberian Rubythroat, 8 Dusky, 2 Pallas's Leaf and 15 Yellow-browed Warblers, while more typical of the date were a single Dark-throated Thrush in among 100 Duskys, 80 Daurian Redstart, 70 Red-flanked Bluetail and 4 Siberian Accentor, 400 Yellow-throated Bunting and 750 Brambling. Further highlights were a Hume's Leaf Warbler and most outstanding a very confiding Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva at the lighthouse.

After watching this for one hour, incredibly a second bird was found less than 200 m distant...both birds remained in their discrete patches of habitat for most of the afternoon. The images reveal several features considered diagnostic in the separation of Red-breasted from the regularly-occurring Red-throated (or Taiga) Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla, most especially an orangey-base to the bill and blackish, brown-edged lower uppertail coverts clearly paler than the darker tail (rather than the all jet-black uppertail coverts of the much colder plumaged Red-throated Flycatcher)

If correctly identified, these are the second and third Red-breasted Flycatchers recorded in South Korea, following one on Eocheong in spring 2003. The species has been photographed several times in neighboring Japan.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (first bird), Socheong. © Nial Moores.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (first bird), Socheong. © Nial Moores.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (second bird), Socheong. © Nial Moores.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Ferry and Socheong Island, November 5

Overcast conditions gave way to a tremendous afternoon thunderstorm, with strong westerly winds. From the ferry, 7 loons included at least one Pacific (most likely 5 Pacific and one Arctic), 40 Pomarine Jaeger, and 3 500 Black-legged Kittiwake

On the island itself, limited time spent in the field due to the weather, but species of note logged in a couple of hours included 150 Dusky Thrush, 3 Pallas's Leaf and 10 Yellow-browed Warblers still, 100 Rustic and 75 Yellow-throated Buntings, and a single Lapland Longspur.

Bird News from Nial Moores with Dr. Peter Mann
Cheorwon and Han-Imjin, November 4

In the few hours of birding time available, a quick trip to Cheorwon produced 88 White-naped and a single Red-Crowned Crane, and a very distant all pale grey goose in with Greater White-fronteds (presumably an immature Snow); while at the Han-Imjin, 30 Mandarin, and ca 500 Swan Goose were the highlights.

Immature Northern Goshawk, Socheong. © Nial Moores.

Bird News from Nial Moores with Dr. Peter Mann
Socheong Island and ferry to Incheon, November 3

Pomarine Jaeger, from Socheong Ferry. © Nial Moores.

Overcast conditions continued overnight, becoming brighter by midday, and numbers of birds remained very high. In the limited area of the island covered before the ferry, highlights included good numbers of Red-flanked Bluetail (40+), the personal first Long-tailed Rosefinch of the autumn (3), single Red-throated Flycatcher and Pallas's Leaf Warbler still, a Hume's Leaf Warbler, and 8 Chinese/Light-vented Bulbul still

From the ferry, at least 5 900 Black-legged Kittiwake were counted, along with 51 Pomarine Jaeger and a single South Polar Skua.

Bird News from Nial Moores with Dr. Peter Mann
Socheong Island, November 2

After heavy rain on the first, overcast conditions with rain showers and strengthening northwest winds grounded good numbers of migrants. Most numerous again were Rustic (ca 1000) and Yellow-throated Buntings (ca 400), and Brambling (2000), while birds of special note included 2 Chestnut-flanked White-eye, single Barn Swallow and Asian House Martin still, 2 Japanese Lark, the personal first "white-headed" Long-tailed Tit (6) and Siberian Accentor (1) of the autumn, and - seen in flight only - what appeared to be an immature albidus Northern Goshawk (very pale, with obvious white fringes above, and brown-grey streaks on an apparently almost white background): it is not known how regular this subspecies is in Korea.

Bird News from Park Jong Gil
Hong Island, November 2

1 Black-browed Reed Warbler, banded in Japan on 24th Oct, was re-trapped today on Hong island.

Black-browed Reed Warbler, Hong Island, 02 November 2004.
© PARK Jong Gil.

Ring No. : KANKYOCHO JAPAN 1D 87446
Species name: Black-browed Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps)
Date of Banding: Oct. 24, 2004
Sex: Unknown
Age: Adult
Banding location: Mouth of Hii river, Nadawaki, Hirata city, Shimane pref., JAPAN
Latitude: 35 degrees 26 minutes N
Longitude: 132 degrees 52 minutes E
Bander: Shigeaki Mori, a member of Japanese Bird Banding Association comment: The bird was caught at 7:00 am during the banding research.

Bird News from Park Jong Gil
Hong Island, November 2

Verditer Flycatcher, Hong Island. © Park Jong Gil.

1 Verditer Flycatcher. This excellent photo documents the country's third record, following one on Gageo Island in 2002 (PARK Jin Young) and on Socheong Island November 2nd, 2003 (Nial Moores and Dennis Buss).

Park Jong Gil (and Hong Island) has had a remarkable run of records this year, including South Korea's first Paddyfield Warbler and Orange-headed Thrush this spring, and the country's first Red-backed Shrike and second Rose-coloured Starling in September.

Bird News from Nial Moores with Dr. Peter Mann
Socheong Island, November 1

Overcast with rain and mist banks by 10 am. Quiet at dawn but overhead flocks of Rustic Bunting and Brambling at midday were the first hints that a good fall was about to take place. No rarities logged, but conservative counts made around the village and valley included 75 Olive-backed Pipit, 80 Dusky Thrush, 80 Yellow-throated Bunting, 700 Brambling and ca 750 Rustic Bunting. Other birds of note included 3 Chinese Grosbeak, the personal first Hawfinch of the autumn, 8 late Asian House Martin joined by an even later Pacific Swift, and at night a Streaked Shearwater repeatedly circling low over the village.

Bird News from Gang Chang Wan
Jeju, November 1

5 Hooded Crane.

Bird News from Mo In Ho
Joonam Reservoir, November 1

Adult Lesser White-fronted Goose (rear) with
Greater White-fronted Goose, Joonam. © MO In Ho.

1 Lesser White fronted Goose, 300 White fronted Geese (+70 Juvenile), and 750 Eastern Taiga Bean Geese, 8 White-naped Crane (6 adults, 2 juveniles).

Bird News from Park Un Nam
Gangneung, November 1

1 Red-billed (Silky) Starling

Bird News from Kim Su Kyung
Upo ramsar site, November 1

1,600 Eastern Taiga Bean Geese and 11 White Spoonbill.

Bird News from Kim Su Kyung
Nakdong Estuary, November 1

150 Eastern Taiga Bean Geese and 50 Swans (+14 Bewick's Swans).